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Lehi grid program now Peyton’s place

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LEHI — The football program at Lehi High School will have a lot of new features next season.

The Pioneers will be playing in a new region, on a new artificial turf field, and now under the direction of a new head coach.

Principal Chuck Bearce announced Wednesday that the school has hired Hunter High assistant Derrick Peyton as the Pioneers' new head football coach. He was one of 12 final applicants interviewed for the job that became vacant when Joe Hayes resigned in late November.

"He came in with a good game plan for himself and a good game plan for the team," Bearce said of the decision to hire Peyton. "He has a good background in football, and he's not a one-dimensional guy. We think he'll be a great asset to our school and a great asset to our football team."

Peyton is a graduate of Granger High and played college football at Eastern Washington, where he was a linebacker and receiver. He began coaching in Spokane, Wash., six years ago and was hired as an assistant at Hunter in 2005, where he's served as the running backs and defensive line coach. He's currently the head track coach at Hunter, but the Lehi job will be his first head coaching position in football.

"I plan to put a lot of emphasis on defense because ultimately that's what wins football games," Peyton said.

The Pioneers have featured a Wing-T attack for the past few years, but Peyton plans to implement a combination of an I-back and spread offense, from which he hopes to run a balance of run and pass plays.

"I don't want our offense to be predictable," he said.

Since the move up to Class 4A two seasons ago, the Pioneers have failed to win a region game. Next season, Lehi will move up another classification and compete in a 5A region with Lone Peak, Pleasant Grove, American Fork, Timpanogos and Spanish Fork. Despite the challenge of turning the program around in a tougher region, Peyton views Lehi football as a "diamond in the rough." He believes the Pioneers can be successful if the players and community buy into his goals and work ethic.

"It's not my team. It's our team," Peyton said.

The school will hold a meet-the-coach party on Feb. 24 at 9 a.m. in the school's commons area where parents, fans, players and the community can come and meet Peyton in person. Peyton will finish out the school year at Hunter, and then next year he'll teach physical education and possibly history at Lehi.

E-mail: jimr@desnews.com